Saturday, March 16, 2013

Moon Snail Encounters on Sunset Beach

A Moon Snail Shell
While enjoying a last walk along the beach before heading back home to the mountainous side of North Carolina, we kept noticing a recurring strange pattern on the sand.  It reminded me of ancient fossils  we've seen in museums.  Our daughter, ever curious, and energetic enough to bend over and investigate more closely, discovered each of these marks were caused by the displacement of the damp sand from movements below, specifically from the slow progress of a Moon Snail digging along its way a couple of inches below the surface of the beach.  She dug up each one and flipped them over to see its round, flat "foot" retreating back up into its shell.  When she put each one down and waited, it started digging itself back down under the sand again.  Neat!

Take the kids and learn more about Moon Snails and other beach-dwelling critters at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in nearby Ocean Isle.

Mysterious pattern in the sand
made by the subterranean hi-jinks of
a Moon Snail.
Emily and one temporarily inconvenienced Moon Snail 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bicycle Racks at Sunset Beach Bliss

Just one of the many bicycle stands
at Sunset Village
If you're visiting Sunset Beach Bliss, take along your bicycles!  Sunset Village at Sandpiper Bay has a number of bicycle stands, two of which are pretty close to our building.  Our neighborhood and the surrounding area provides a quiet, laid-back stretch for little touring on two wheels.

And for the more adventurous and experienced cyclists, the new bridge over the ICC has plenty of room for cyclists to cross over from the mainland to the outer banks - enjoy the magical experience of a ride right by the ocean.

Sunset Beach, together with the adjoining stretch of beach call Bird Island, gives you over four miles of uninterrupted bicycling on the beach - all the way down to the South Carolina border!  In Season, bike rentals are available at Sunset Beach as well.

The locations of two of the Sunset Village bike stands closest to our condo building

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wilmington's River Walk: Still Growing

 We spent most of the day in Wilmington  NC, today.  The Riverwalk (a scenic brick and wooden deck walkway along Water Street on the Cape Fear River) is a lot longer since the last time we visited.  And according to the map, once completed, it will stretch all the way from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Isabel Holmes Bridge, or "bridge to bridge."

At just over a mile, what's already there brings you by lots of wonderful restaurants (our favourite: Le Catalan) and shopping (Farmers' Market every Saturday in Season), while affording you constant access to refreshing breezes and views across the water.

This Map We Found Near
the Convention Center Shows
the Future Course of Riverwalk
While walking along the riverfront, we noticed a lot of improvements, as the city has added a lot of nice touches and convenient amenities, such as historical markers, plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views, and attractive street lights.  And even more renovations to the Riverfront park and other amenity upgrades are on the horizon.

With Spring not yet here, our pace was a little more brisk at times to keep ourselves cozy.  We can't wait to return in the more Summer-y seasons for another more leisurely stroll.
View from a newer section of Wilmington's Riverwalk, past the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship in the Cape Fear River

Sunset Beach Bird Watching: While Grilling By the Lagoon, We Notice We Have Company

Sunset Village is a lovely quiet spot for enjoying close encounters with some pretty fabulous birds!  Yesterday, while relaxing by the grill as our steaks sizzled over the coals, we noticed a visitor - A Great Blue Heron flew down and landed just about ten yards further along the bank from we stood.  All we had in the way of camera equipment was an iPhone, so he was a lot easier to see in person than he is in our snapshots - but zoomed in, you can see him fairly well below.

He stood there for about ten minutes, looking around.  We tried to get a little closer for a better photo, but at a certain point, he began backing away from us.  So this is as good as it gets, until you visit this lovely place to do some of your own relaxing by the grill.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Boat Ramp at Sunset Beach

View from Proposed Park Site
We took a little time during our latest visit to Sunset Beach to take a first-hand look at the new boat ramp, a stone's throw from the proposed site of the Town's next park.

The boat ramp is easy to get to - while driving to the end of Sunset Blvd North on the mainland, just stay in the left lane, instead of taking the right-hand exit for Sunset Beach's new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.  The ramp area is straight ahead, and there's plenty of parking for vehicles and boat trailers provided, plus an excellent public pier for fishing, etc.  The ramp allows for one boat launch at a time.

Entrance to New Boat Ramp at Sunset Beach, NC
It's also a pretty place to be, with gorgeous live oaks clustered along the banks, and the air alive with the sounds and movements of waterbirds.  Even before Spring has begun, we spotted a Pelican, an Egret and a Kingfisher as we gazed over that beautiful water.

Sunset Beach Boat Ramp Entrance, Located at the end of Sunset Blvd. North, Right By the New Bridge Over the ICW (IntraCoastal Waterway)